onsdag 18. mai 2022

2021, the retro vintage

Retro has been a big thing lately, many companies have launched modern takes on their 80’s and 90’s models, especially in the fashion industry. I don’t think the wine producers of Bordeaux planned it, but that is what have turned out. I will not bore you with lengthy details about the weather, I will cut it down to the most important. 

2021 was problematic, frosts and mildew, even if many estates lost quite small percentages, some lost a lot. I recall some producers last summer posting it was 2013 all over again. But the autumn seems to have saved it. It is a vintage that resembles the 80’s and 90’s style, fresher acidity, lighter bodied, lower alcohol, less extraction, yes some are a bit herbal, some even green, but even in 2018 so e were green, so someone always misses the beat. 

I find it a vintage for those that love claret, the classics. Not the top end vintages, even if there were some really beautiful wines even this year, but for those that savour the style that is undeniably Bordeaux. The style no-one else can make. A style you never see from Bolgheri or Napa Valley. The style with blackcurrants more than cassis, with anise rather than liquorice, just less ripeness. Or even over ripeness. 

There is an ongoing debate about the styles of the recent years, well, the recent years since 2009, were lusher, bigger, more alcohol has been the norm. So many wines clocked in just around 13% alcohol this year, and in 2003, that was considered high. Today we say it is low. It is the first time in years people have discussed that they didn’t chaptalise. 

For me the vintage resembles 2001 in acidity, body, extraction of fruit and alcohol. The tannins back then was more robust, even somewhat rustic, the wines needed ten years before people started discovering them, and they still do. Now many say it is better than the 2000 vintage it followed. The tannin structure is very different in 2021 though, much more gently extracted, more fine tuned and fine grained. The entire precision of the wines are different. No one made wines this way in 2001. But the expression is not that far of. 

I also think 2021 may resemble 1985 in a few years, I think it will always charm you, and that you will think it is ready to drink sooner than it will be, or at least, it will always outlast your perception of its longevity. The acidity (pH) will give these wines a long life, I’m sure. Some say 1988, I think 1988 is greener, more rustic, some say 1986, I think those have somewhat higher concentration and definitely very different tannin structure. 

2014 I hear as well, I think those have a different and purer or maybe rather brighter fruit expression, while maybe somewhat less complex. I also find the acidity in 2014 less lively. But it really doesn’t resemble any vintages fully, I don’t think any vintage has had this combination of texture, tannin structure, acidity, body and general behaviour. 

It seems the knowledge and speed at which the wine growers spotted, decided and were able to treat mildew had a great impact, some seems to have called in every single employee and their grand parents to do vineyard work at seven in the evening on a Sunday if that needed be. Frost also seems to have affected the normally warmer and therefore often classified estates less. Yet again. 

And it seems everyone biodynamic is hit much harder by mildew than those conventional. Mildew is no longer a problem some said, we have treatments for it. While others lost a lot due to the same problems, meaning the cannot treat with something effective enough. Especially if they discovered it just a bit to late. Then they were behind all throughout the growing season, several told me. 

It is a classic style, retro vintage, a style that we all used to love from Bordeaux, this resembles the classic vintages much more than 2018 ever will, yet it is clear it is not a great vintage, but I will say it is a good one. I gave no perfect scores, but quite a few estates were given high scores. Many have been tasted twice, some even three or four times with very similar tasting notes. 750 wines was tasted during two weeks, so a fairly comprehensive feel to the vintage. I think some will adore the classic style while others will regret that it doesn’t have more power. 

There are some excellent dry whites, but I don’t find all of the dry whites as great as some seems to do, heterogeneous vintage here as well, some are just shining! Sauternes was super difficult, some lost almost all, most lost a lot. Suduiraut making just 5000 liters or so, just 3 hl per hectare at Fargues. Maybe four barrels! of Myrat, that is 1200 bottles… Those I tasted was a bit leaner yet refreshing and elegant. 

Many thanks to all who organised private tastings for me! 

Ingen kommentarer:

Legg inn en kommentar